Tuesday, 31 May 2011

This Behaviour Will Seriously Damage Ourselves

BLOG WARNING: The material contained herein is of a melodramatic and pessimistic nature and may seriously damage your upbeat mood.
Jesus ..... as a species, we are fucked up.  

Saw a programme on tv about care homes for mentally impaired young people.  A bloke, posing as a new recruit, goes in with a hidden camera to film what goes on.  This is a modern facility, mainly staffed by young people.  They are employed as support workers to care for people who are unable to live independently and look after themselves. The patients were regularly bullied and abused - both physically and mentally - according to the filming done by the stooge. For instance, a young, fit, strong bloke regularly slapped, dragged, pinned down and threw freezing water over his 'charges'.  Moreover, no-one (neither his peers nor line managers) intervened.  In fact they either looked on or joined in.  I found it sickening and appalling to watch.  The kind of thing that beggars belief. Much like the Stanford Prison experiment carried out by Zimbardo and his team (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment) and the Milgram experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment).  

What do these experiments, and the behaviour exhibited in the programme, demonstrate?  That we're bullies and cowards?  That we value approval over and above compassion?  That we care more for our own psychological and physical comfort than we do for others? 

That we are selfish.  

We will protect our own position at the expense of others' suffering and discomfort, particularly when there is little threat of being challenged and called out on our behaviour.

Are we really that scared and cowardly?

On the flip side ......there are many instances of kindness and caring action.  But they are often not dramatic; not sensational.  They just pass on by, and you might witness them and smile, and then carry on with your day.

And it 's impossible to judge whether the abuse of those young patients is more prevalent than kind and caring acts.  Neither behaviour can be measured in a meaningful and accurate way. 

So, I wonder whether I over-reacted to the programme?  Whether my appalled reaction plays into the drama of an extreme of human behaviour.  Behaviour that is not neccessarily indicative of the norm of what most human beings behave like most of the time.  

Perhaps, the programme was made to titillate and excite.... and so the making of the programme AND the watching unwittingly colludes with the behaviour that it is exposing.  

See?  Instead of believing that the programme makers wanted to expose the mistreatment of vulnerable people, I cynically doubt their motives. 

A demonstratrion of how humanity is fucked and rushing headlong to its own demise at its own hand.

Well .... you can but hope.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

L.O.V.E.: Love, Luv, Lurve.

All we need is love.  Love is all we need.  - So said the Beatles.
Bryan Ferry said: Love is the drug. 
I wanna know what love is - implored Foreigner.
Seal opines that Love is divine.

And on and on and on... how many songs are written about love?

What does love mean?  What is love?  Does it mean we enjoy something or someone?  Does it mean that we accept them without question?  Does it mean we care about what happens to them?  Does it mean that we want them to be happy?  Does it mean being cruel at times in order to help them?  Is it the urge to be accepted, included, to matter?

Is it a feeling, a state, an idea?  How do you know that you love someone?  How can you determine between loving one person and not loving another?  

Is hating love?  If you hate someone, then there is an intensity of feeling there, you certainly aren't indifferent - you care about what they think about you; which must mean that their opinion matters to you. So if you give someone so much focus and attention, then isn't that love by another name - that's probably too facile an explanation and deserves its own blog at some other time!

If you say you love someone and then at another time you don't, then how can that be love?  Isn't that just preference?

Are there different kinds of love?  Romantic, familial, platonic.

Aren't most instances of love actually the opposite: wanting something from someone under your own terms and conditions, putting restrictions on people - i.e. if they don't fulfill our idea of what we think we want from them, then the love turns into hate.  Does that mean that love is self-hate. Because we want them to give us what we don't have, we love them.  When they don't give us what we think we need, we don't love them anymore.  Their best interests conflict with yours. That's selfishness.  Selfness.

Is it a bond?  How long does the bond last?  For some; a moment - it's a fleeting obsession. For others, the bond lasts for literally a lifetime.

Is it expectation? Do we expect others to fulfill our expectations of what we want them to be?  That's projection and limitation.  But we label it love. In every relationship there's at least 6 personas: The person you are and the person they are at that moment. The person you want them to be and the person they want you to be.  And the person you want to project and the person they want to project.  What an impossibility then to say 'I Love You'.  Which persona is loving which other persona?

I know that I've asked a lot of questions relating to what love is, but it's taken so much for granted and used as such a cliche, but rarely do we actually stop to wonder what it is?
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and the closest that I can come to an explanation is that love is a process; or more accurately - a movement.  It's not a 'thing'.  It's not a state.  It's not a definite.   When you say to someone 'I Love You', you're not saying 'I will love you always.'  You're saying 'In this instant, there is a feeling that is labelled love that is being associated with you.'

Hmmm.  Sounds a bit cold and clinical doesn't it?  Takes away the warm, fuzzy stuff associated with love.  But that's reality.  No-one can ever say 'I Love You' and mean it for more than the moment it takes to say it.  And it's not cold.  It's not clinical.  It's the opposite.  It's real.  Not promising something that is impossible to deliver.  

Which makes marriage vows ridiculous.  How can anyone know what they're going to do in the next moment, let alone for a lifetime?  Wouldn't it be much more honest to say 'At this moment it feels like I love you.  I'm not going to promise you something that I have no idea whether I can deliver.  All I can give you is this feeling in this moment.'  

I don't think many people would take up that offer! But it would be more honest.  And realistic.

It seems that people want assurances and certainty.  They want to know where they stand; to try and stand in a definite position in a certain state.  They don't like change.  So they make vows that are empty and meaningless in an attempt to pin down life; to say "There - it's sure, it's certain; I love A and A loves me".  A desperate clinging, a frantic attempt to fix the moment and, of course, it fails. Always.  

You can't fix the moment:you can't be certain about anything;.... except change - o.k. so that's one thing you can be certain about ... and taxes - o.k. again, so two things ....and death; So that's three things you can be certain about.  But apart from those three things you can't be certain about anything else. ;-)

It's emotional blackmail to ask someone to pledge even the next moment, let alone a lifetime, or to think that you can pledge that TO someone or something. The evidence of the failure of intent to love eternally, or for any specified amount of time, is pretty much abundant AND it's the balance that is necessary - the contrast that defines the feeling that we label 'love'.

One of my children asked me "would you love me if I was a paedophile.'  (Hope he wasn't trying to tell me something!)  I replied "Of course I would.  I wouldn't like you, but I'd still love you."   And do you know.... when I said it, I did really feel that I would love him no matter what.  That no matter what acts he'd done, how violently or atrociously he'd behaved, I would see past that (whilst abhorring his behaviour) and still love that core, that flavour,  that I think of when I think of him.  

But that's my projection. That there is 'something' there that is unchanging; that I can assert I will always love, that I will be able to see past the actions and the behaviour. The honest answer would have been, 'at the moment I think that I would still love him, but were you to tell me that you are a paedophile, I can't honestly say how I would feel.  Just don't test me on it, Darling!'  

See, because there are many people who are indifferent to their family members. Who feel absolutely nothing for them.  Have no bond.  But conversely there can be a feeling of identification with anyone; whether they be family members, close friends or strangers.  

Love is a dynamic, lawless movement, with no rules, that can last a second or a century.  It can be there despite every test and disgusting behaviour, or it can disappear in a second due to one throwaway word or gesture.  It's as ephemeral and insubstantial as everything and anything.  It's built on shifting sand, so it can never be defended or defined.  It's only real as it emerges.  As it exists.

Love, like everything else that we talk or think about, is a concept.  But it's the most seductive, pervasive and persuasive concept.  So much has been written, talked and eulogised about it; but rarely do we stop to think what it is, and whether it actually exists.  

Ultimately, is it just our need to prove that we exist and that we are necessary?   That we are wanted, in fact, needed, by at least one other person.  Because it validates our existence.

So is it that urge that moves us to identify as being 'a part of', to be in community, in communion, because we can't exist as a solitary thing? We know that what we are is always dependent on what everything else is; that we are inseparable, but because we've been told that we are something separate and autonomous, we try to dissolve that illusion of separation by asserting love.  

When we try to impose a state of love it may be that in our ignorance we are trying to regain our sense of wholeness , or.. perhaps love is experiencing and recognising the flow of life.

So you could say (and I'm going to) that love is life.  And there.  Damn.  I've gone and done it.  I've hippiefied love.  But I'll also add that if love is life, then so is hate.  And indifference.  It's all unconditional.

Or... is love....

...like oxygen?


Or ... does it only last until Tuesday: (get ready to cringe like you've never cringed before!)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Right Stuff

Barack Obama was just on the TV talking about basic human rights.

Basic.  Human. Rights.

It's something that is considered fundamental to any society; people having rights to certain things:

The Basic Human Rights

The fundamental human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and adopted by the Human Rights Act include:
  • The right to life, (not an absolute right); prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; prohibition of slavery, (both absolute rights); abolition of the death penalty.
  • The right to liberty and security, to a fair trial and to no punishment without law.
  • The right to respect for private and family life; the right to marry; the protection of property; the right to education.
  • Freedom of thought and religion; freedom of expression; freedom of assembly; right to free elections.
  • The prohibition on discrimination in the application of these human rights.
What strikes me as  highly ironic though is that all of these rights are only liberties that need to be defended and protected from other humans. It's interesting too, that none of these rights are actually automatic.  In fact all of them are restricted in law.  Everyone has a right to all these things.... unless the law says otherwise.  So, not exactly a right then... more an arbitrary application that can be changed if the law is amended.

There was a billboard recently that said: Children have a right to play.  Do they?  Who is going to enforce that?  Who defines what a child is? Who defines what play is?

What precisely is a 'right'? If we assert that there is a 'right' to something it is saying that there is an assumption of automatic privilege.  That no-one should be impeded in the execution of the right.  But all of the above rights,  and those of other countries, exist only to protect people against other people!

Take, for instance, the United States Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Ignoring for now the fact that rights are endowed by a creator.... it's interesting that the rights are life, liberty and the 'pursuit' of Happiness.  Not happiness itself, just the right to pursue it.  Pretty empty right, I'd say. In fact not really a right, more an endeavour!

You can pursue happiness, but you don't have a right to it?    Stuff that.

I say 'Down with Rights - Rights are Wrong'.  Be happy (or not) regardless of whether a constitution says you do or do not have the right to pursue it. In fact, I'd say that pursuing happiness pretty much precludes it, cos looking for it means you aren't happy. Only when you stop looking can there be happiness (whatever that is).

Oh, and here's the link to the Barack Obama song:


Thursday, 12 May 2011

I = God =/= anything

When we say "I did this", "I did that", what we are actually saying is "I am God".  We attribute life's existence to God and the functioning of our life to 'I'.  We effectively say that I control myself and my life.  I = God.  Where both "I" and "God" are non-existent. 

Neither can be proven.  There is an assumption that because this exists (whatever 'this' is) then it must have been caused or made or created by something or someone.  It is assumed that 'this' is an effect of something else.... It's extrapolating a causer of existence.  That there is this existing and it must be caused by 'something' even though that something can't be seen or proven to exist.  

And it's entirely logical, because if we take a look at anything - for instance  this screen that you're looking at now - we attribute it's existence to it being made by somebody; it was put together out of component parts by a person, who got their instructions from a design, that was put together by another person, that was created by someone else etc., etc.  Therefore, there's a deduction that anything existing does so as a result of a previous action, and the mind needs to solve the equation, the conundrum, and come up with a definitive answer that puts a stop to the never-ending cycle of cause and effect.  It sees it in linear terms, rather than as a cycle of creation and destruction.

So, there is this experience, and it's assumed that there must be a creator.  A generator; which try as we might, can't be found.  To return to the example of this computer screen, we can endlessly trace back it's existence but can never find it.  

Try it now.  Break it down into its component parts; all put together by a factory operative somewhere; take each of those parts - trace each back to its manufacture; to the plastic and the silicone and the metal; even so early on in the backward chain you can already see that there is no single cause of the result that appears to be this screen.  And so the same with this existence.  

It's precisely because there can be no trace back to one singular causative agent that the human brain, in its confusion of being unable to make the equation work,  manufactures  a cause and gives it a name, attributes, qualities and so ........ God is made in our own image. But made so that it can't be seen, known or proven.  The cause (or God)  has to be bigger, more powerful and more knowing than us.  Because, we deduce - if God created this, then that God must surely be bigger, better, more powerful and more intelligent than that which it created.  So God becomes a story of such fantastical proportions that its qualities can never be apprehended by the creation it made.  And therefore, God becomes unknowable, and if God can't be known, neither can it be proved.  Because in order to prove something it has to be evident... otherwise it's just a theory.  

I hear you say: "Ah, but you can see the evidence of God.  The entire creation is evidence of God's."  No, it isn't.  The entire creation is evidence of the entire creation.  It doesn't need a Creator.  It doesn't need God for it to exist.  Similarly it doesn't need a big bang or a potentiality.  It is evidence in itself.  It is only evidenced by it's existence.

And to get personal, the very same mechanism that creates the story of a creator is the same process that conjures this thing called 'I/Me/You/Self'.  

There is seeing, and hearing, and smelling, and thinking and tasting, and a cause is overlayed onto the experiencing: Ha! becomes part of the experiencing.  There is a surmisation that there is a causative agent that is doing the things that are experienced, and is also having the experience.  And this surmising is called 'I'.  And this 'I' is given the credit for doing it all.

But just like God, if this 'I''s existence is asked to be proven, the person can't come up with a definitive, knowable thing that can be incontravertibly proven to be the 'I'.  All sorts of theories about what "I" is, are put forward: The body, the brain, a spirit, an animating force, awareness, conscioussness, the soul.  And then at some point, when all the possibilities of what this 'I' is are exhausted - when that which is labelled "I" can't be found to be an actual thing, the person questions the very existence of an 'I' in the first place.  And sees that it does not, has never, nor will ever exist.  It sees that its own existence is not caused by an 'I'.  And on further looking it sees that the very seeing itself is not as the result of a definable, explainable, describable originator. 

Belief in God is just a belief in a bigger 'I'.  It says that as there is an 'I' then that 'I' must have been created by something and that something must be more than what I am - so it conjures up an originator.  Questioning God or questioning 'I' is the same process - it's looking for the proof of something that is only a belief.  And when the proof can't be found, it's seen that there is no origin - no begin point. Only an assumption that there is a beginning point which set off a whole chain of events that can explain the what, how and why of existence, of life.

But take the belief of an Originating Doer out of the picture and what is left?  

Well, have a look - what is left?

"If you want to make applie pie, first create the universe."  Carl Sagan.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Magic Moments

Those moments don't happen that often do they?

The magic ones. The sublime, easy, free-flowing experiences.

Hippies call it 'being in the flow'.

Athletes call it 'being in the zone.'

Drummers call it 'being conscious'.

And the only thing that's missing from that experience, and others that don't feel quite so magical, is the notion that there's anything or anyone controlling it.

Like today - work done; driving in the sunshine on a bank holiday Monday; roof down on the scruffy little Roadster that I have, cruising in the backslip of a removals van down pot-holed country lanes, the wind whipping up hair, and the dust, and the blossom from late Spring trees.  Jason Mraz  singing about the beautiful moon on the blown stereo speakers.

And you're gone.  All there is, is the driving and the wind and the sunshine.  The dust and the lorry. The music and the blossom.  Sublime.

It's feels like the hands have been taken off the steering wheel of living.

And it's all just driving itself.  Which it is.  It actually always is; it doesn't just always feel like it.

I don't think it's put any better than the timeless Keith Richards: "It's great to be here.  It's great to be anywhere.".

And to finish off, here's a very unflowing interview with Monsieur Richards.  Despite its clunkiness, there are some vintage Richards moment.


Ai thank u.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Tell me what you want...

I was reading a blog today called: http://freshnessfactorfivethousand.blogspot.com by the inspiring and inspired singer/songwriter Jason Mraz.  The strapline for the blog is: "Fuck the Should.  Do the Want."

I think out of all the words in the English language, 'should' is the one I hate the most (apart from Inland Revenue, which is actually two, so probably doesn't count!)

'Should' is far from reality.  It says "what you need to do isn't happening, and it isn't what you want to do, but IF you do it things will be tidier. However, the only satisfaction you'll get is to tick something off on your 'to do' list." 

Eurgh - it's a smug, self-satisfied little word.

And if you listen to the conversations going on around you, and read newspapers and magazines, you'll encounter it a lot.  It's most often used in relation to other people.  As in "They SHOULD  do this" or "They SHOULD do that".  It's a real 'pointy-finger' word.  It lives in splendour in the Daily Mail.  In fact, I think that the editorial of the Daily Mail is probably based upon 'what should be happening.'  Or at least it .... should be... arf, arf.

Not only does it imply odious responsibility and life-draining burdens, it introduces the mysterious and omnipresent entity - 'They'.  Those unidentifiable experts who reign supreme in matters of the weather, child-rearing, fashion, diets, drinking habits, moral obligations... just about everything really.

But what really offends me about the word 'should', and all that it implies, is that it denies what is happening now.  It denies THIS experience.  It's a great big fat NO - and it doesn't even have the honesty to say 'Fuck Off'.  It's censorious, denying, limiting, restricting and very, very mean-minded.  It says that if you're having F.U.N. and doing what you want, then you bloody well shouldn't be!  

It's the teacher with a mouth like a cat's arse, it's the sour-faced shop assistant, it's the sign at the public swimming pool that says "No running, No jumping, No petting, NO FUCKING FUN!"

But the ridiculous thing about not doing what you want, only what you should ... is that eventually what you want will turn into what you should.  And on a very obvious level what you want IS what you should be doing, because it's what you're doing..... so it's the only thing that you could possibly BE doing.

Ooooh, it's the word at the very heart of human misery:  You should be content.  You should be good. You should try harder (that's got to be the most repeated comment on school reports).   It fences off the glorious extremes of human experience: misery, failure, anger, lasciviousness (I like THAT word), excess, rage, apathy, lust, abandonment, hysteria, hilarity, intoxication ... you get the picture. 

It engenders notions of dishonour, impropriety, disgrace - it's the creeping, red-cheeked, prickling sensation of shame.  Its purpose is to stop people from relishing the reality of the present experience, seeking something that isn't happening; the ultimate ignorance; i.e. ignoring what you really, really want.

Last word is: Do what you want, because that's what you SHOULD be doing..... wanna know why?  Because it's what you are doing!  And you can't argue with reality.  And if you do, then you bloody well shouldn't! ;-)

In the words of those camped up divas, The Spice Girls - "Yo, tell me what you want, what you really, really want!

So, "Fuck the Should, Do the Want."  What a philosophy!